FIFA could abandon plans for Saudi Arabia's tourism body to sponsor the Women's World Cup after a major backlash from co-hosts Australia and New Zealand.

The sport's governing body was reportedly set to add Visit Saudi as a tournament sponsor for the competition, though no official announcement has been made.

An angry response from both the two host nations and leading players, such as United States veteran Alex Morgan, has reportedly forced a rethink from FIFA now however.

Both Football Australia and New Zealand Football remain frustrated by a lack of clarity though, with the latter's chief executive Andrew Pragnell voicing his displeasure.

"I found the response fairly ambiguous," he told local media. "It didn't confirm nor deny the potential Visit Saudi sponsorship that has been reported in the media.

"It did allude to the importance of treating all member associations equally and the importance of engagement as opposed to isolation.

"Other than that, it stated that they'd be reaching out through their media and partnerships team for further conversations.

"We're left in a little bit of uncertainty as to what's going on here, to be frank, which is a bit disappointing.

"Anything further I say would be speculation because I don't know, but clearly our letter, given the delay in the response, and the absence of confirmation or denial, has caused some form of rethink in FIFA about this issue."

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson echoed his opposite number's comments, adding that any such sponsorship would not match their values for the tournament.

"It was an overwhelming consensus that this partnership does not align with our collective vision for the tournament and falls short of our expectations," he said.

"While we await further clarity and information as to the details of the partnership from FIFA, we continue to convey this clear message on behalf of Football Australia, New Zealand Football, and our community."

England will face Denmark, China and an as-yet undecided qualifier at next year's Australia/New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup, as holders the United States face fellow 2019 finalists the Netherlands.

The Lionesses, heading into their first major tournament since claiming Euro 2022 glory on home turf, will compete in Group D following Saturday's draw in Auckland.

Sarina Wiegman's side will meet fellow UEFA outfit Denmark alongside Asian Cup holders China, plus one of Chile, Senegal or Haiti, who are due to complete their qualification battle in February next year.

All eyes will be on Group E however, where the USWNT will meet Wiegman's old team once more, four years on from defeating them in the final at France 2019.

They are joined by Vietnam, as well as another unknown qualifier who will be confirmed at the start of next year.

Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland face hosts Australia in Group B, along with Canada and Nigeria, while co-hosts New Zealand take on Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines in Group A.

Japan, finalists in 2015, have been pitted against Spain, Zambia and Costa Rica in Group C, while France, Jamaica and Brazil - alongside the third and final remaining qualifier - make up an intriguing Group F.

Sweden, downed by England in the Euro 2020 semi-finals earlier this year, headline Group G alongside South Africa, Italy and Argentina. Germany are in Group H with Morocco, Colombia and South Korea.

The tournament begins on July 20 next year, before reaching its climax with the final at Sydney's Stadium Australia four weeks later on August 20.

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas took home a second straight Ballon d'Or Feminin award on Monday to become the first two-time winner.

Putellas was recognised in 2021 after winning the Champions League with Barca, before returning to the final this year.

The Blaugrana this time came up short, losing to Lyon, but Putellas finished as the competition's top scorer and Player of the Season.

She was then denied the opportunity to feature at the Women's Euro 2022 after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the finals.

Despite missing the tournament, while three of her four fellow Ballon d'Or finalists featured, Putellas was named the world's best player by France Football again in Paris.

Beth Mead, who inspired England's Euros triumph, finished second, but Putellas was a popular winner and gave an emotional speech as she reflected on a tough period in her career.

"Thanks to France Football and the members of the jury," she said. "On April 5, I broke my knee and I believed that this [winning the Ballon d'Or] would not be possible, because I believed that the most recent European Championship would be remembered.

"My most sincere congratulations to the English FA for the organisation they had for the European Championship and how they are having that impact on women's football in that country. They are an example of how they are doing it.

"I hope that the next time I have to speak, it will be on the pitch again, and I hope that we will see each other again there."

On a high from their 15-run victory over Pakistan on Friday, Barbados came crashing back down to earth on Sunday when they lost nine wickets with 71 balls to spare to Australia’s women at the Commonwealth Games.

Needing 65 to win from 20 overs, Meg Lanning scored an unbeaten 36 from 21 balls and Alyssa Healy 23 from 24 balls to propel Australia to 68-1 in just 8.1 overs.

The pair shared in a second-wicket partnership of 63 after Australia had lost the wicket of Beth Mooney for two in the second over.

Shanika Bruce was the lone wicket-taker for Barbados. She took 1-7 from the two overs she bowled.

Australia won the toss and sent Barbados to bat on a grassy pitch that held no terrors. Openers Deandra Dottin and Captain Hayley Matthews got the Caribbean representatives off to a good start getting to 20 inside four overs.

However, it all began to go wrong with the fifth ball of the fourth over bowled by Darcie Brown. Matthews had punished the bowler with two boundaries before getting out to an injudicious shot for 18.

She was the only batter to get into double figures as Deandra Dottin went for eight as Barbados slipped to 37 for 2. Shortly thereafter Kycia Knight was out for nine pulling Tahlia McGrath down to backward square where Megan Schutt held onto an easy catch and leave Barbados in serious trouble on 39-3 in the ninth over.

Barbados lost their last seven wickets for just 25 runs courtesy of Alana King who took 4-8 and McGrath 3-13. Ashleigh Gardener chipped in with a haul of 2-6 from her four overs as the batters fell like nine pins.

 

 

 

 

 

Only one batter scored more than 200 runs in seven matches, they dropped more than 20 catches and had the worst catching efficiency of all the teams, and they crashed out in ignominious fashion losing by 157 runs to Australia on Tuesday night but West Indies Women Captain Stafanie Taylor believes the team played well in the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup.

In what could rank as one of their poorest performances of the World Cup, West Indies Women were bowled out for 148 chasing a target of 306, losing by 157 runs via Duckworth/Lewis method in the rain-shortened game.

Only Taylor (48), Matthews (34) and Dottin (34) made any score of note as the West Indies Women wilted under the pressure of the chase and incisive bowling from the Australian attack.

Notwithstanding, the abject performance in the match and in the tournament where after opening with scores of 259-9 and 225-6, the West Indies Women failed to score 200 runs or more for the remainder of the tournament, Taylor was hopeful for the future.

“No one expected us to win the first two games and to be in the semi-finals,” she said after the ended world cup campaign.

“I think the way we played throughout the tournament had been really good. We had some ups and downs and that happens but it’s about learning and I believe we are still learning and I am proud of the way we played. We still have more to go and you’ll see us around again.”

Matthews, who opened the tournament with a brilliant 119 against hosts New Zealand, was the leading scorer for the WIW with 260 runs at an average of 37.14. Shemaine Campbell with an aggregate of 185 runs had the next best average of 30.83.

Deandra Dottin scored 199 runs but averaged just 28.42 while Taylor averaged 21.57 from an aggregate of 151 runs during the tournament.

Matthews was also the leading wicket-taker with 10 wickets in the tournament and was the only West Indies Women bowler in double figures.

 

 

 

Australia continued their dominance at the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup with a comprehensive 158-run win over the West Indies in the first semi-final in Wellington.

The match was reduced to 45 overs per team after a rain delay before the toss which the West Indies won the toss and elected to field first.

Australia’s opening pair of Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes got off to a slow start while assessing conditions before putting the Windies bowlers to the sword once they got comfortable.

The two ended up putting on a mammoth 216 before Healy was dismissed for a blistering 129 off just 107 balls in the 33rd over.

Healy's innings included 17 fours and one six.

Haynes eventually got to 85 off 100 balls before she became the second wicket to fall with the score on 231 in the 36th over.

Captain Meg Lanning (26 not out) and Beth Mooney (43 not out) then continued the attack for the Australians before the innings closed with them amassing 305-3 off their 45 overs.

Chinelle Henry was the only West Indian who had a decent showing with the ball, taking 2-51 off her nine overs.

The Windies started their reply already at a disadvantage as Anisa Mohammed and Chinelle Henry were both unable to bat after sustaining injuries in the field.

Captain Stafanie Taylor (48), Hayley Matthews (34) and Deandra Dottin (34) were the only West Indian batters to pass double figures as Australia were equally dominant with the ball, restricting the Windies to 148-8 to secure a 158-run win and advance to the final.

Jess Jonassen took 2-14 off five overs.

Australia will be looking for their seventh ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup title and first since 2013 when they play the winner of the second semi-final between South Africa and defending champions England.

The second semi-final takes place on Wednesday in Christchurch.

 

 

 

West Indies Women head coach Courtney Walsh is confident ahead of their 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final against Australia in Wellington on Tuesday.

Speaking in an interview with Andrew Mason, Walsh, who was appointed as head coach in October 2020 after previously serving as assistant coach to Gus Logie, expressed his confidence and outlined that while the team has played well in stages, they still haven’t put it all together.

“I’m very confident. I think the team deserves to be in the semis. We’ve played some very good cricket while we’ve been here and we still haven’t put it together as a team like we know we can do so this will be the right game to get that started so I’m pretty confident that once we execute and play to our potential, we’ll have a very good game,” he said.

The West Indies got a few days rest after their last game against South Africa last Wednesday, something Walsh says has done the team well.

“We had a couple days away from it which has done us some good. It’s the first break we’ve had since the start of the competition so we had a couple of days where some of the main players were not required to come to practice to give them a chance to recover and the girls who weren’t playing much cricket had a chance to come out and get some decent practice as well. We’re in a good space at the moment,” he said.

“There’s no major concern. We know the areas that we haven’t done well in and the coaches have been trying very hard to get everybody up to speed,” was Walsh’s response when asked about any concerns he had going into the semi-final.

The West Indies will be aiming to advance to their second Women's World Cup final after finishing as runners-up in 2013 in India.

 

 

 

 

 

West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor wants her team to relish the moment ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Australia on Tuesday.

“We want to relish the moment and go out there and play hard cricket,” the all-rounder said in a pre-match press conference on Monday.

The match will be played in Wellington where the West Indies have been awaiting their fate since their last group match against South Africa was rained out last Wednesday.

“We’ve been here for a while now. We’ve been getting used to conditions in the nets so hopefully that should help us in how we play. We just have to take it how it comes and play like a final and, hopefully, we come out on top,” she said.

There was a time not too long ago when a World Cup semi-final seemed like an unreachable dream for the Caribbean side but Taylor says changes over the last couple years have helped the team grow.

“We’ve had some changes to our team and a new coaching staff. I believe the work they’ve been doing with us has changed the way we go about our game,” she said.

“I think we have come a long way. It may not show as much with the score sheet but I feel like we’ve come a long way looking back on series we’ve played. The coaching staff has contributed so much to where we are. I thought we had a really good start to the tournament and hopefully that’s something we could use to get us through in this back-end. Everyone is fit and rearing to go,” Taylor added.

The West Indies will be looking to reach their second World Cup final after being runners up in 2013, losing the final to Australia by 114 runs.

West Indies all-rounder Hayley Matthews says all the pressure is on Australia ahead of their ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final clash in Wellington on Tuesday.

Megan Rapinoe scored direct from a corner as she and fellow United States veteran Carli Lloyd hit doubles to sink Australia 4-3 in the Olympic Games bronze medal game.

Australia's replies came from Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Emily Gielnik in the seven-goal feast at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.

It was 36-year-old Rapinoe and 39-year-old Lloyd who stole the show, though, on what may prove to be farewell appearances for the superstar duo.

Whether they play on in the short term for the national team remains to be seen, but this was likely a final outing at the Olympics for both, and they went out in style.

Rapinoe opened the scoring in the eighth minute when her wicked in-swinging corner from the left evaded everybody and found the net.

Kerr levelled seven minutes later with her 48th goal for Australia – a new national team record – when her shot proved too powerful for Adrianna Franch, but it was soon Rapinoe's time again.

The standout player from the 2019 World Cup smashed in her second goal of this game on the volley, connecting sweetly from around 12 yards after Alanna Kennedy sliced an attempted clearance.

Lloyd, who became the outright second most-capped player in US history by making her 312th appearance, got in on the goals just before half time. Her thumping left-footed shot across goal found the right corner, putting the US 3-1 up.

Lloyd scored again in the 51st minute after another Kennedy error, this time a weak header back to her goalkeeper allowing Lloyd a clear run on goal, with the striker slotting home.

That made her the US team's all-time highest scorer in Olympic women's football with 10 goals. Lloyd won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, with Rapinoe also on the triumphant latter team in London.

Australia got back into this game with a header from Foord after 54 minutes, and Kerr headed against the left post two minutes later. Substitute Gielnik rattled in a delicious late third for Australia, but they could not find a fourth.

The United States and Canada will do battle in the semi-finals of the women's football tournament at Tokyo 2020 after edging into the final four.

USA - winners of the Olympic tournament four times previously - managed to beat the Netherlands 4-2 on penalties in their quarter-final after the game finished 2-2 at the end of extra time.

Having finished with fewer than six points in the group stage of a major event for the first time in their history, the USA knew a much-improved display was needed against a Dutch side who scored 21 times in their opening three games, the most of any women's side at a single Olympics.

They duly delivered a strong display as they twice took the lead only for Vivianne Miedema to continue her sensational form, scoring twice to cancel out goals from Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams in an engrossing contest in Yokohama.

Megan Rapinoe swept the decisive penalty kick high into the net after Alyssa Naeher had made two stops to her right.


BRAZIL FALL SHORT AGAIN

Canada await USA after they inflicted further heartbreak on Brazil, whose wait for gold in this event goes on.

Beaten semi-finalists in Rio five years ago, Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw before suffering another defeat on penalties to the 2016 bronze medallists.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, who was injured in the closing stages of extra time, recovered to make two critical saves in the shoot-out to secure a 4-3 win.

"In the moment, it was about trusting myself, trusting my instincts, and trusting my ability to make a save," she said afterwards.

"Pain is temporary. We have our eyes on the prize."

 

WHITE TREBLE NOT ENOUGH AS MATILDAS WIN CLASSIC

The stand-out quarter-final took place between Australia and Great Britain, a seven-goal thriller eventually ending in a 4-3 victory for the Matildas.

Two goals from Ellen White had turned the game on its head and looked to be enough to send Hege Riise's side through, but Chelsea star Sam Kerr levelled in the 89th minute with a crisp low strike.

The contest then swung Australia's way in a dramatic minute in extra time, Mary Fowler's deflected shot finding the top corner after Caroline Weir had a penalty saved at the other end.

Kerr scored another before White completed her hat-trick with a deft header to set up a frantic finale, with Australia just holding on for a famous win.

Remarkably, they overperformed in terms of expected goals by 3.2, their highest such figure at these finals.

Australia will contest their semi-final against Sweden, who ended Japan's quest for a medal on home soil with a 3-1 victory.

Mina Tanaka cancelled out Magdalena Eriksson's sixth-minute opener, but Sweden took control in the second half through further goals from Stina Blackstenius and Kosovare Asllani.

 

The United States will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the women's football tournament at Tokyo 2020 after being held 0-0 by Australia to finish second in Group G.

USA bounced back from a shock 3-0 loss to Sweden in their opening game with a 6-1 win against New Zealand, but they dropped further points in the round-robin stage on Tuesday.

Previously unbeaten in 44 games before that Sweden loss, USA failed to break down Australia's defence – Alex Morgan's disallowed goal for offside the closest they came to doing so.

Mary Fowler hit the crossbar for Australia and in the end a point apiece was a fair outcome, with the Matildas also advancing to play Great Britain in the last eight.

It is the first time in history record four-time winners USWNT have finished with fewer than six points in the group stage of a major global tournament.

 

RAMPANT DUTCH AWAIT USA

Sweden were already assured of a place in the last eight ahead of their clash with New Zealand and saw the job through with a 2-0 win at Miyagi Stadium to finish ahead of USA.

Anna Anvegard and Madelen Janogy were on target for Sweden before half-time and they saw out a straightforward win that condemned New Zealand to a group-stage exit.

It means USA will now take on the Netherlands in the next round in what is a repeat of the 2019 Women's World Cup final. The Netherlands lost that match, but they enter this latest showdown in superb form after thrashing China 8-2 in Yokohama.

Lineth Beerensteyn, Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema all scored twice in the one-sided affair, while Shanice van de Sanden and Victoria Pelova were also on target.

The Netherlands' tally of 21 goals from three games is already the most scored by a team in a single women's football Olympics event, surpassing the USA's 16 from London 2012.

HOSTS JAPAN SCRAPE THROUGH

Japan did all that they could in the final round of group games by beating Chile 1-0 through a Mina Tanaka goal 13 minutes from time.

That win took the tournament hosts to four points from three games, enough to send them through as one of the best third-placed sides, along with Australia.

Already through to the quarter-finals, Great Britain snatched top spot with a late 1-1 draw against second-placed Canada in Tuesday's other Group E match.

Caroline Weir's long-range free-kick with 84 minutes played took a heavy deflection and cancelled out Adriana Leon's opener.

Brazil also booked their spot in the knockout stages thanks to Andressa's first-half free-kick in their 1-0 win against the tournament's lowest-ranked side in Zambia, who lost Lushomo Mweemba to an early red card. 

The Selecao meet Canada in the quarters, while Australia await Great Britain.

The United States returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion to kick-start their bid for Olympic glory, while Barbra Banda tied a Games record with a second successive hat-trick for Zambia.

Sweden had sensationally put an end to USA's 44-match unbeaten streak at the start of the women's tournament, with Megan Rapinoe admitting the beaten world champions had "played a bit tight" in a 3-0 defeat.

However, Vlatko Andonovski's side responded impressively to that setback on Saturday, thrashing New Zealand 6-1 in Saitama, in the process registering their largest margin of victory in an Olympics fixture.

Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan gave USA a 2-0 half-time lead, the latter on target to mark her 100th cap. Further efforts from Christen Press and Alex Morgan added to the score after the break, while they were helped out by their opponents scoring two own goals.

It is the Swedes who sit on top of the table, though, as a strong second-half performance sealed a 4-2 triumph against Australia.

Meanwhile, Banda equalled the record for most goals scored by a woman at a single Olympics, matching Christine Sinclair's tally of six for Canada at London 2012 with another treble, this time against China.

Zambia's captain scored all her country's goals in a 10-3 loss to the Netherlands in their Group F opener. She followed up with three more in a thrilling 4-4 draw on Saturday, though China's Wang Shuang went one better as she hit four in a see-saw contest.

Vivianne Miedema later moved level with Banda on six goals at this Olympics. The forward had scored four as the Dutch crushed Zambia, then managed another two in a 3-3 draw against Brazil.

Ellen White continued her impressive start to the tournament with the winner as Great Britain defeated hosts Japan 1-0 to qualify for the last eight.

Having scored twice in the opening 2-0 win over Chile, White made it 13 goals in her past 14 international outings when heading in a cross from Lucy Bronze in the 74th minute.

Also in Group E, Canada overcame Chile 2-1 thanks to a brace from Janine Beckie, putting them second in the standings ahead of a clash with Team GB to finish the round-robin stage.

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